Transforming Cities in Emerging Economies: Planning and Design Challenges

Course 05501: Transforming Cities in Emerging Economies: Planning and Design Challenges will meet at an irregular time during the first week. The first class will be held on January 23 from 9-10 in room 508.  Professor Davis will also be available in her office, room 318, from 10-11:30 on the 23 if students wish to talk with her about the course. The course will meet from 2-5 PM on Mondays throughout the remainder of the semester.
This course examines the social and spatial dynamics of rapid urbanization in middle-income countries of the developing world. Using case studies from India, China, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Singapore, Lebanon, and South Africa, it familiarizes students with the social, political, economic, and spatial challenges facing cities in emerging economies. It understands urban growth not just in built environmental terms but also with respect to economic processes produced by globalization and the shift away from industry to services – paying special attention to the importance of urban mega-projects and other land-grabbing real estate developments in growing urban and national economies. In addition to examining the local, national, and global forces and conditions that drive urban growth, the course addresses several key planning and design challenges ranging from growing income inequality, eviction and displacement, rising crime, and environmental risk to the emergence of a fragmented yet sprawling and underserviced landscape where informality remains a persistent problem. It examines how citizens, state actors (both local and national), and private developers have responded to these challenges, and asks students to consider which planning and design interventions might better accommodate the conflicting demands that accompany recent urban transformations. 
Although the course is most concerned with the contemporary epoch, it draws fundamental insights from historical processes of urbanization in earlier periods of capitalist development. Because the developing world is far from homogenous, we are less interested in finding general propositions about urbanization and development, and more concerned with understanding place-specific dynamics. Course readings and lectures build on the epistemological proposition that deep knowledge of context is essential to good planning practice. 
The course has no pre-requisites. Engaged student discussion is central to the lecture-style format of the class. Assignments include in-class presentations, two short essays, and a final project.